How Protoyping changed my life

So before I stared my immersion semester at the ETC I worked on a couple long term web stack applications. Where you make a product, test it, fix some bugs and hand it over to the client.

And then BVW happened.

I was supposed to make games within a 2 week time frame with Interims after the first week and then the final presentation the week after that. This meant we needed to have working protoype with working base mechanics before the interim and a final working game before the end of second week.

This needed to get us game mechanics working as soon as possible considering we spent the first couple days brainstorming and coming up with ideas and then fixating on the idea.

The two week games had to be made in a team with two programmers, designers and sound artists. The artists took a long time for their assets which isn’t entirely their fault. As a programmers we couldn’t really wait for the assets to be ready so we had to come up with basic prototypes that worked. We used capsules, cylinders and cubes to represent basic elements and got the mechanics working.

During this period, we actually did realize if any of the mechanic is going to be a pain in the butt to implement and then we needed to redesign or reconsider it. Although there was the “First Penguin Award” in case we shot too high, no one really wanted it. We needed to fail at the earliest to realize where we had to work harder and make changes. And it always worked out in the end.

Except that one round.

The second one with “indirect control” where we really should have got out prototypes sooner and play tested as I think we didn’t keep it simple. We wanted to make a survival game, in VR with no instructions, where you have to light a fire and then save yourself from the wolves! Should have prototyped earlier and quicker and playtested even more as we were short of time towards the end of the two week deadline!

Anyways, rapid prototyping and play testing is something that is an integral part of designing any game and that without it, you won’t know if your game is “fun” and if it “just works”.

 

  • Rapid Prototyping and playtesting are very important, not just in games but in any domain in software engineering. Getting the product out there opens up the forum for discussion, criticism and feedback. I found the significance of this in the naive-guest round in BVW. Testing your game with people who have never really played many games before gives you a lot of very meaningful insights. Apart from rapid prototyping, one thing I learnt from that was the importance of incremental prototyping. They sound similar but are two different concepts. Incremental prototyping involves reducing the scope of deliverables to a bare minimum and playtesting each version and based on feedback, build on it to get the next version. This worked wonders for us and we were able to get a solid build by the end of two weeks

  • Jeremy

    Nice. I guess what’s mentioned are some of the key takeaways everybody who has gone through BVW would definitely value.
    The article is well-structured. It reminds me of some of my BVW projects too. Lots of recollections.

  • Griva Patel

    A good article about rapid prototyping. I like how it starts off with a simple background and then dives into Building Virtual Worlds class, which is a great start into explaining how prototyping changed your life. I can definitely relate to the example you gave about the game development not going as planned because of lack in prototyping. I faced that during my first round when we didn’t playtest the game and so weren’t able to develop an effective prototype. I would like to learn more about the example you gave about it not working as planned and compare it with an example when the game functioned perfectly as planned, as the difference between the two might be interesting. Overall, it’s a good blog and I would love to read more about your experiences with developing different games.

  • Tauseef

    Prototype certainly is one of the most important aspects of developing a game. We tried to use the “build a toy first” approach at the recent Global Game Jam and ended up with a finished mechanic in the first night. And boy did we have fun.
    And I totally agree that just prototyping was not enough, once a prototype has been built it has to go through a phase of playtesting. Because we saw that the mechanic was fun but it got lost somewhere during the implementation of our vision for the game.
    Naive guest round: I have also had similar experiences, during the naive guest round we play-tested every night, and our producer handled the role of seeing to it that our feature implementation never came in the way of being able to test a product.
    Would like to hear some of your tips for playtesting during Game Jam like timelines.
    Great work!